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10 Short Films You Can Watch On Netflix In Under An Hour

Netflix debuted a quirky and heartwarming short film with a mere 16-minute runtime called “John Was Trying to Contact Aliens” in August. The streaming service doesn’t often add short films so this was a welcome change-up.

In the early days of the pandemic, it felt like there was nothing but time. Now half a year into this, I have less patience and am grateful for any storyline that concisely offers a satisfying narrative arc. This no longer feels like a moment for slogging through four seasons of a show with long episodes heavy on B-plots and frustrating characters (looking at you, “Halt and Catch Fire”).

This is a moment for quick hits (but still not Quibi’s “quick bites,” never that). As such, I figured I should look into the few short films on Netflix that are worth checking out.

Zion Clarke in “Zion” on Netflix.

I went by the Academy Award rules to define “short,” meaning all 10 recommended movies below are 40 minutes or less.

Read on for the full list.

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Premise: In this documentary, a gay man in rural Michigan longs for connection while growing up with his grandparents during the 1970s. He embarks on a project to try to contact aliens with elaborate electronic equipment.

Premise: In this documentary, a suburban man appears to have joined ISIS. His friends reckon with that choice and try to piece together his motivation.

Premise: In this dance-focused music video directed by Paul Thomas Anderson, Thom Yorke moves through a gray cityscape in a clownish manner. His character pursues love and experiences love lost, all set to a soundtrack created by Yorke.

Premise: In this documentary, a young man born without legs pursues high school wrestling. His incredible upper body strength helps him wrestle in the ring against competitors with legs.

Premise: In this black-and-white experimental drama directed by David Lynch, a detective (played by Lynch) interrogates a monkey suspected of murder. The monkey can talk and tells the detective of his troubled life.

Premise: In this documentary, a woman growing up in rural India tries to escape the odds of a hard life by becoming a world-class archer. She ultimately competed in the Olympics.

Premise: In this documentary, three women in Huntington, West Virginia, fight the opioid epidemic in their own ways. They work as a fire chief, a judge and a missionary.

Premise: In this Academy Award-winning documentary, volunteer rescue workers try to save people amid the Syrian civil war. Under threat of daily bombings, the volunteers take on much risk to stay in the area and help others.

Premise: In this documentary, a lawyer tries to prove his client has an alibi by piecing together footage from a “Curb Your Enthusiasm” episode that was shot at a Los Angeles Dodgers game. Larry David makes an appearance to talk about his show’s role in the defense case.

Premise: In this documentary, bird-watchers at the United States-Mexico border track the birds’ migration between the two countries. The movie uses the often whimsical nature of bird-watching to tackle bigger issues such as immigration and climate change.

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